Centre launches 'SHe-box' to address sexual harassment at work
There are 34 lakh central government employees in India, and women constitute 11% of the total force.
Nothing much was done to protect the government's women employees from sexual harassment at work or efficiently handle such cases until now.
The Women and Child Development Ministry has now launched 'SHe-box' (Sexual Harassment electronic-box) online platform for them to register workplace sexual harassment-related complaints.
Government's women employees and workplace sexual harassment
Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi's statement
Gandhi said: "We are going to widen the (SHe-box's) ambit to include the private sector as well. We just need to make a few changes in our online interface. Once it is done, employees from private companies would also be able to lodge complaints."
Making workplace safer for government women employees
The Women and Child Development (WCD) Ministry decided to launch the SHe-box online platform in October last year, after receiving several complaints from women employees across various ministries.
The SHe-box system is being hosted on the Ministry's website.
It seeks to ensure the "effective implementation" of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition, and Redressal) Act, 2013.
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How does the SHe-box system work?
An SHe-box complaint is directly sent to the Internal Complaint Committee (ICC) of the respective Ministry/government department/PSU/autonomous body for inquiry.
The concerned ICC will then take action as per the rules of the Act and update the complaint status.
The portal would also enable employees to follow-up the pending complaints.
Gandhi instructed the Ministry officials to make the portal "as interactive as possible."
Maneka Gandhi on handling sexual harassment cases
Gandhi stated if ICCs are working, WCD Ministry wouldn't interfere. She added, "People, who will come to us, are those women employees who work where there are no committees, or there's one for the sake of it or composed of people who are outrightly negative."
Sexual Harassment Act mandates Internal Complaint Committee
Maneka Gandhi said the definition of "what constitutes a case of sexual harassment" should be available on SHe-box to avoid sending frivolous cases to ICCs.
Under the Sexual Harassment Act, it is mandatory for all workplaces with over ten employees to have an ICC for handling sexual harassment complaints.
A section of the portal would also allow complainants to "vent" their grievances soon.
WCD Ministry to soon conduct a nationwide survey
Maneka Gandhi said the Ministry would soon conduct a pan India survey to assess the "nature and magnitude" of workplace sexual harassment.
The survey is inspired by a small-case study conducted by an NGO on women-related issues.
The survey would be available both online (on the portal, Facebook, and Twitter) and offline; the Ministry would also collaborate with other related organizations.
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